What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank? Bertolt Brecht

FAA not moving fast enough on safety
WebPosted Tue Sep 7 19:33:21 1999
WASHINGTON - A woman whose husband died in the crash of
Swissair 111 off Nova Scotia says she's furious after meeting
with the head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in
INDEPTH: Swissair
Lynn Romano formed an aviation safety group after the crash.
            The group wants the FAA to move now on its list of
Romano says she is alarmed by the reception she was given
by FAA chief Tom McSweeny. "I've asked the FAA to do
what they are called to do and that is passenger safety. There
are human aspects to this whole thing and I told them, 'when
the next plane goes down and your wife or daughter is on it,
guess what, you are responsible for their death because you
are not taking your responsibilities seriously enough.'"
 The group is asking the FAA to force airlines to make some
changes. For example, she says airlines should be forced to
re-examine and update certain wiring systems.
  And she says Mylar insulation, must be banned now from
airlines. Swissair investigators found the airplane insulation to
be highly flammable.
The FAA has given airlines four years to get rid of the
"I find that reprehensible," said Romano. "Four years to
remove those blankets. It gives plenty of time for a couple
more planes to go down."
Last week's memorial to the victims of Swissair 111 featured
a letter from U.S. President Bill Clinton promising to make the
skies safer.
Romano says after her meeting with the FAA she finds the
promise hard to believe.
"They left unsatisfied and angry after meeting White House representatives as well as a senior official of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration." (see story below)
I 'visited' IASA's web site and need some clarification posted in regard to Rob Russo's article posted there.
I am not sure how he came to the idea that IASA had any problem with the White House's response to our goals, but it appears he (Reporter Russo) misunderstood our 'chat' over lunch. 

The White House was MORE THAN RESPONSIVE AND VERY SUPPORTIVE OF OUR (IASA's) goals. I NEED that to be indicated on our IASA web-site. - Lyn (However regarding the FAA - spot on)

Wednesday, September 8, 1999
FAA delays anger Flight 111 families
WASHINGTON (CP) - When Lyn Romano met with U.S. air safety officials yesterday, she brought photos of her husband as well as pathologists' drawings of his shattered remains after the crash of Swissair Flight 111.
"I wanted them to realize they were dealing with human beings rather than just a number," Romano said.
Her husband, Raymond, was among the 229 people killed when the Geneva-bound Swissair MD-11 jet plummeted into the ocean off Peggy's Cove on Sept. 2, 1998.
Romano and Barbara Fetherolf, who lost her 16-year-old daughter Tara in the crash, came to Washington to push for safer airliners and greater sensitivity towards victims' families following a crash.
They left unsatisfied and angry after meeting White House representatives as well as a senior official of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
One of their fundamental objectives is to get airlines to make faster changes to the wiring and insulation blankets of jets around the world.
But the FAA would not budge from its directive giving airlines four years to check wiring and replace the flammable insulation blankets.
"Four years of these flying coffins - that's my term for them - flying around, and it's just OK in their opinion," Romano complained after meeting with Thomas McSweeny, the FAA's head of aircraft regulation and certification.
Romano and Fetherolf also want better treatment for the families of airline passengers when a crash occurs. Romano realized after watching a late local newscast her husband likely had died aboard Swissair Flight 111. It took several agonizing hours for her to get confirmation from the airline that her husband was aboard.
Fetherolf said her daughter's dripping passport was fished out of the Atlantic and held aloft for television cameras.
"They showed her name and picture on network television," Fetherolf said. "What if I had been watching television at that moment?"
The passport and several of her daughter's other possessions were returned to her in an envelope stamped "freeze-dried."
They want a committee formed that includes a family member of an air-crash victim to help families deal with many of the difficult issues surrounding recovery of victims and their personal effects following air accidents.
Romano has promised to take any settlement money she might get from the airline and put it towards a foundation she chairs that promotes greater air safety.
Many of the relatives of Swissair victims have decided to wait until the official accident investigation is over before commenting on these and other air safety issues surrounding the crash.
But Fetherolf and Romano have opted for a more aggressive route, asking pointed questions and demanding high-level meetings with senior government officials.
FAA spokesman Les Dorr said the agency has issued more than a half-dozen airworthiness directives since December requiring airlines to check wiring and other electrical components on Boeing MD-11s, the type of widebody aircraft that crashed.
Just want to mention that I asked the FAA today, whether they intended to warn people boarding these planes during the four years it would take to replace the mylar insulation, that their lives would be in danger. I didn't really get a response to that one.
More later from Lyn.
The Boeing Bulletin referred to above can be found at: http://www.aviationtoday.com/reports/smoke.htm  or via here and here
After 10 months it was the best advice that Boeing Long Beach (Chief MD-11 Test-Pilot) could come up with. It does not need much analysis. It is simply sad that a huge Company like BOEING are so distracted by the pending sr111 litigation that their batteries of lawyers will not allow an honest appraisal of what MD-11 crews should do (in the event of an elec fire). It is a total cop-out. Read it yourself and then imagine. "Just what would a China Airlines MD-11crew get out of this?" Well I'll tell you. Even disregarding the subtle legalistic nuances, not much at all. Crews flying the MD11 are stuck with the infamous Smoke/Elec/Air Switch. In the next panel there's an extract from a [Major Airlines] Captain's opinion, so that you can judge the relevance of the above views. Read that and then click on the link that will give you a more concise opinion. Thomas McSweeny's letter indicated that the FAA was unaware of the Boeing Bulletin and its ramifications. However, before the China Airlines MD11 turned turtle on landing in Hong Kong, trapping almost 300 people inverted for 90 mins in a burning jet, the FAA had decided to hold an airworthiness review of the MD11 (just so's they could say that they had done so). The previous landing accident (Fedex MD11 at Newark) left that aircraft inverted and burning. You have to ask yourself: "Do I need that." We already know that that aircraft has:

a. Only a two man crew on long haul. (OK until something goes wrong .... then they're stuck in their seats on their oxygen umbilicals)
b. Kaptonitis ( a rubber band is as strong as its weakest point).
c. Flammable thermal/acoustic batts throughout for the next four years. These are needed to propagate the elec fire beneath the cabin lining.
d. An electrical system without any reliable redundancy.
e. A weight and balance (fuel-pumping) trim and flight control system that's inop once the electrics run amok -not to mention the high-set centre engine that flames out because it can't gravity feed.
f. A history of flight control dynamic instability problems (that's actually killed people in the cruise). [Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter said company manuals already warn of the problem in bold, capitalized letters. She said redesigning the autopilot system ``is not as simple as it sounds,'' and pilots would be best served by following the established procedures].
g. An undercarriage configuration that just can't hack the crosswinds and directional control problems. Just before the HK incident another MD11 went off the runway in a landing incident in Shanghai. And, just before that, another MD11 crashed after take-off at Shanghai. Inverted and burning tends to negate all the evacuation schedules that are rigorously applied for certification.
h. One of the early Airworthiness Directives for MD-11's was designed to accommodate the McDonnell Douglas design practise of running high current wiring through the cockpit switches (instead of low current DC solenoid and relay control of a more distant high power circuit). The switching transients at the switches were causing fires (Swissair 551 landed in Munich with the cockpit smoke so dense that the pilots couldn't see their airspeed). The FAA fix::: they guessed that it might be related to the number of switch cycles so they are now "logged" (and the switches changed). That's similar to saying that your kitchen toaster's power-point will cause a fire if you don't keep track of how many times you've cycled it (unless of course it's nothing to do with cycles but simply a function of the design).
i. But we'd have to concede full marks for the Canadian investigators. One thing that I've noted about Canadians over the years, they can be relied upon to do the right thing. They fuss-potted about the MD11 electrics to the extent that the FAA stepped out of character and did something (albeit half-hearted). However we cannot forget that when they checked MD11 wiring, apart from the infamous IFE system's plumbing they found that it was, throughout MD11 Fleets, a buggar's muddle. I wonder what changes have been incorporated in the MD10 rebuilds of the many DC-10's (now under air-testing)? I'm a betting man, I'll say zilch.

A Chief Pilot's Concerns: 
Per our conversation at the recent Safety Forum, I have prepared the following for your review. I have tried to list the items in order of importance and urgency as well as what can be accomplished in the near term and those of a longer term.
Short Term Goals:
Re-routing and the incumbent rewiring of the MD-11ís Left Emergency AC & DC Bus wires as well as the Right Emergency AC & DC Bus wires, the Bat and Bat Direct bus wires. As it is presently wired, the MD-11 is not in compliance with FAR part 25.1353 in spirit or intent. This can be remedied only by re-routing these wires. This will require our engineers working in close consort with Boeing to design the necessary wire drawings. The condition as it exists exposes the MD-11 to a single point failure that would deprive the aircraft of all its flight instruments and its ability to control all other aircraft systems.
The present wiring of the non-essential systems on our B-767-ER (i.e., seats, IFE, etc.) does not allow proper functioning of the Utilities Bus switch. The pilots expect and the system should be so wired that when the Utilities Bus switch is activated, electrical power is removed from all non-essential equipment. This can be accomplished by reviewing the various power sources for all non-essential equipment and then rewiring these so that they can be electrically controlled with the Utilities Bus switch.
Watch this Space: Will the dollar cost be too much or will they do a conscience-stricken quick fix?
You know that you know the answer to that.

 For a concise examination of the Boeing MD11 Bulletin, click here

Subject: Re: sr111 Club Post
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 01:38:59 EDT
From: PAPCECST@aol.com
To: rosebush@bestweb.net

Lyn et al,

No Wiring expert at FAA 
Barbara Fetherolf 09/08/1999 12:02 pm EDT 
What is just amazing is that there seems to be nobody in charge of wiring issues at the FAA. They turn to the industry for their advice. For years they have been quoted as saying that 'wire is just wire.' Pretty frightening in light of the sr111 disaster. Now they are denying that they ever said that despite the fact that McSweeny is quoted on tape (during a TV broadcast), as saying this. Yesterday he said that he never stated this. Today Lyn and I spoke with David Evans of Air Safety Week, who told us that next week at the Capitol, there will be hearings held in regards to wiring issues. I believe these hearings are open to the public.

McSweeny is also recorded in the congressional record, when he appeared before Congress as saying "wire is wire." Ask John King for a copy of his testimony before Congress. Now remember this:

The FAA has set forth regulations in FAR 25 for an airplane mfg to get an Airworthiness Certification for each commercial jet they produce that carry passengers. FAR 25 mentions that any materials that are "hazardous, un-reliable and produce fire and smoke CAN NOT BE USED." This has to include A/C wire because it is constructed with certain INSULATION MATERIALS. 

The FAA Hughes Tech Center NJ has put out three separate Test Reports concerning electrical ARCING of aircraft wire. They do KNOW about wire and its dangers. Evidence is conclusive that the FAA knows the dangers of A/C WIRE and NO COPOUT by the FAA can be believed. 

In a letter dated Aug 27 1992 from Ronald T. Wojnar to John H. Anderson, Mr. Wojnar is quoted as follows, "Should you wish to discuss this matter further, the engineer on my staff most familiar with this subject is Mr. John Dimtroff. He can be reached at (206) 227 2117." The subject being discussed was, "This is in response to your letter May 25, 1992, regarding the usage of Raychem 55 and Kapton electrical wire in commercial transport airplanes."

http://members.aol.com/papcecst (site now defunct / Patrick Price is deceased)

Environmental Influence of Gravity and Pressure on Arc Tracking of Insulated Wires Investigated

Momentary short-circuit arcs between a defective polyimide-insulated wire and another conductor may thermally char (pyrolize) the insulating material. The charred polyimide, being conductive, can sustain the short-circuit arc, which may propagate along the wire through continuous pyrolization of the polyimide insulation (arc tracking). If the arcing wire is part of a multiple-wire bundle, the polyimide insulation of other wires within the bundle may become thermally charred and start arc tracking also (flash over). Such arc tracking can lead to complete failure of an entire wire bundle, causing other critical spacecraft or aircraft failures.

Unfortunately, all tested candidate wire insulations for aerospace vehicles were susceptible to arc tracking. Therefore, a test procedure was designed at the NASA Lewis Research Center to select the insulation type least susceptible to arc tracking. This test procedure addresses the following three areas of concern: (1) probability of initiation, (2) probability of reinitiation (restrike), and (3) extent of arc tracking damage (propagation rate). Item 2 (restrike probability) is an issue if power can be terminated from and reapplied to the arcing wire (by a switch, fuse, or resettable circuit breaker). The degree of damage from an arcing event (item 3) refers to how easily the arc chars nearby insulation and propagates along the wire pair. Ease of nearby insulation charring can be determined by measuring the rate of arc propagation. Insulation that chars easily will propagate the arc faster than insulation that does not char very easily.

A popular polyimide insulated wire for aerospace vehicles, MIL-W-81381, was tested to determine a degree of damage from an arcing event (item 3) in the following three environments: (1) microgravity with air at 1-atm pressure, (2) 1g with air at 1 atm, and (3) 1g within a 10^-6 Torr vacuum.

bar chart

Comparison of MIL-W-81381 insulated wire (20 AWG), in each environment of interest, with respect to the distance the arc travels in 16 sec.

The microgravity 1-atm air was the harshest environment, with respect to the rate of damage of arc tracking, for the 20 AWG (American Wiring Gauge) MIL-W-81381 wire insulation type . The vacuum environment resulted in the least damage. Further testing is planned to determine if the environmental results are consistent between insulation types and to evaluate the other two parameters associated with arc tracking susceptibility.

Lewis contact: Thomas J. Stueber, (216) 433-2218 (E-Mail: stueber@lerc.nasa.gov)
Headquarters program office: OSMA

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Last updated April 17, 1996, by nancy.amman@lerc.nasa.gov

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